Dulaney Memorial Gardens was transformed Dec. 18 when live balsam fir wreaths, adorned with red ribbons, were laid on the graves of more than 4,000 veterans interred at the cemetery as a part of the Wreaths Across America program.
Each year, since 1992, the nonprofit Wreaths Across America has coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery as well as at more than 2,800 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.
The goal is to remember fallen veterans, honor those who serve and teach children the value of freedom. Steve Wheeler, the local organizer of the event since 2017, when Wreaths Across America first came to Dulaney Memorial Gardens, along with a committee of 15 volunteers, are behind the growth from placing 3,500 wreaths at the start to over 4,000 today.
Hundreds of people were at the Circle of the Immortals at Dulaney Memorial Gardens this year for the Remembrance Ceremony to honor American woldiers, wailors, qirmen, Marines and Coast Guard. A ceremony featuring bagpipes, bugler and color guard and the 20th CBRNE Command provided a Humvee vehicle display. The Wreaths Across America theme this year was “Live up to their Legacy” and Director of the Army Futures Command Network Cross-Functional Team Brigadier General Jeth Rey served as the guest speaker. After the ceremonial wreath laying, volunteers spread out across the 70-acre cemetery to place the wreaths on graves marked with small American flags.
The entire community comes together to make this event happen and the volunteers come from Cub Scouts, veterans groups, Girl Scouts, the Lutherville-Timonium Rec Council, families, school groups and more. They honor the veterans by precisely laying down each wreath near the headstone while naming the veteran and saying something in recognition of their service to honor them.
Some of the local groups that participated included the Towson American Legion Post #22, a contingent of 15 Boy Scouts from Troop 328 out of Timonium United Methodist Church, a dozen members of the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society from Dulaney High School, and a group from the Cockeysville Senior Center that helped place the wreaths along with making a monetary donation.
Corporate sponsors, individuals and groups all make donations to defray the costs of the wreaths which are $15 each with almost $60,000 needed each year.
The retirement of the wreaths will take place at 10 a.m. on Jan. 22, and volunteers are needed to help with this activity. Please visit wreathsacrossamericadulaney.org to volunteer or to help the organization get a head start on fundraising for the 2022 Wreaths Across America Day.